While Bordeaux may be the capital of wine in France, Montpellier is the capital of viticulture and Bezier is the oldest wine producer.
Last weekend, I went to a vineyard just north of Beziers owned by my upstairs neighbor’s family. There, his brother in law gave us a little tour.
First, the grapes are grown…
…then they go into this contraption to separate the grapes from the twigs and the leaves.
From there, the juice (and skin depending) gets transferred into the large barrels for fermentation. The three holes in the wall are the large reservoirs.
From the second story, you can look down into some of the barrels. During fermentation, it is essential that the juice is kept at a specific temperature. The temperatures are different for white and red. To accomplish this feat, les drapeaus circulate cold water within the barrels. When les drapeaus are removed, they are covered in a chalky, acidic residue. This is sold and used to make candy.
When opening the barrels, the carbon-dioxide that builds during fermentation escapes. Often new viticulturists experience the sensation of suffocating if they don’t expect this coming.
After fermentation, the juice is transferred to smaller barrels for aging. This wine is only aged about 5 years. The date is written on the side of the barrel.
Cooking wine is aged in sunlight.
When the wine is ready, it’s bottled, boxed, and sold to oenophiles everywhere.
Quelle bonne journée!